Monday, 28 March 2016

Carrow Road – Norwich City

1st March 2016

Norwich 1-2 Chelsea
Obtaining tickets for the visit of such Premiership heavyweights as Chelsea to a modest little ground like Carrow Road, was a bit of a coup I thought.  Although the fact this was a midweek fixture and also that we were prepared to accept non-adjacent seats helped I am sure.  Although, that they were in the Family Section did surprise me a touch.

The Carrow Road Family Section is sited in a corner of the Norwich & Peterborough Stand, behind one of the goals, where I discovered it comprised very basic bucket seating bolted to what was the old terracing from the days when this would have been a standing area.  In these cash-bloated times, there is really no excuse for the supporters of any top flight English football club to have to endure such nonsense. 

As I said, we had been unable to obtain seats together, but were only three seats apart, so I put on my least threatening smile and asked the chap to my left if he would mind moving up a seat so my companion and I could be seated together.  “I would mind, actually” he said, deadpan.  I initially thought he was joking…but I learned not. 

I ventured that was OK, and attempted to make light of the issue by making a remark about his Lucky Seat or some such, to which I received a grunt in return.  Charming.  He then pretty much sat with his back to me throughout the whole match, the rear of his bald head and thick neck looking remarkably like a large penis, I noted.

The next thing which began to irk me was the bad language being used by a group of supporters a couple of rows behind me.   Now I am no stranger to profanity at football grounds, and I generally just find it unnecessary, rather than offensive.  Indeed, the odd swearie has even passed my lips from time to time – usually in the direction of Kenny Miller as he fluffed another sitter in Scotland colours.  But to hear such a comprehensive selection of expletives being bellowed out in a Family Section, just struck me as bizarre.  Was this really the family-friendly atmosphere Mr. and Mrs. Delia were aiming for?

Norwich v Chelsea - March 2016

Carrow Road, Norwich - looking towards the Barclay End Stand

Carrow Road, Norwich - looking towards the Geoffrey Watling City Stand

Diego Costa

Nemanja Matic

Eden Hazard

The gable atop the Geoffrey Watling City Stand

An ankle injury to Canaries' Norwegian midfielder Alex Tettey signalled
 the end not only of  his match, but also his season.

Norwich v Chelsea - March 2015

Bleed streams down the face of Gary O'Neill, as the
Norwich physio attempts extract Robbie Brady's two front teeth from O'Neill's forehead.
This was a sore one.  

Whatever point Cesc Fabregas is attempting to make to Nathan Redmond,
the Norwich striker doesn't look impressed. 

O'Neill post patch-up just behind Chelsea's John Obi Mikel

This was Russell Martin taking an undignified tumble, as the home side pushed for a late equaliser. 

Panorama of Carrow Road, Norwich City.

Anyway, to the match itself.  It was moderately diverting affair: Chelsea opened the scoring after just 39 seconds, when the home defence with remarkable generosity, invited Kenedy up field to take a pot shot.  Bertrand Traore and then Diego Costa really should have increased the lead, both failing when through one-on-one with Canaries’ keeper John Ruddy, but lucky goalkeeping and poor control respectively kept the score at 1-0.  It looked as if it may stay that way until the break before COSTA, drifting in from an offside position, scored a second in the 45th minute.

Norwich improved a touch after the break, but not much, the few chances they created squandered by some embarrassingly woeful finishing by Nathan Redmond.  And although the unfortunate chap did pull a goal back with 20 minutes remaining, any subsequent equalizer would have been scandalous larceny, such was the gulf between the sides.  That being said, I noted upon later scanning the match stats, that the combatants had only managed two shots on target each during the whole 90 minutes.

So – to sum up: a fair-to-middling evening’s entertainment tainted more than somewhat by the behaviour of Jabba The Hutt and the F’n’C Brigade behind me, leading me to come away from Carrow Road with a vague feeling that Norwich really was not a terribly nice place at all.

Wikipedia tells us the club's emblem of a canary reflects the city's 
long history of locals keeping and breeding of the birds as a hobby.

Exterior of The Barclay Stand, Carrow Road, Norwich.

This hospitality suite I assume is named for Bryan Gunn,
who was both a player for and, briefly, manager of the club.

Looks yum - perhaps next time.

Carrow Road, Norwich

Carrow Road, Norwich

Carrow Road, Norwich

Fortunately I had a few hours free to spend in the town itself the following morning, and came away charmed.

Crossing the Foundry Bridge across the River Wensum, I noted a sign marking a river walk, so detoured in this direction.  From the tourist map I knew this path wound its way towards the marvellously evocative sounding Tombland.  Given this area surrounds the cathedral I imagined some extensive necropolis crammed full of dangerously-leaning moss-heavy memorial stones.  But…..regretfully not.  The tomb part of the word refers not to anything funereal but, I learned, was simply a derivation of the old Scandinavia word meaning open space. 

Nevertheless, the river walk took me past all manner of diverting sights: The 14th Century Bishop’s Bridge, Pull’s Ferry house, Cow Tower (again, sadly misnamed – nothing bovine going on), plus, what I was reliably informed was The Last Remaining Swan Pit in England.  I had never realised swans had pits.

Slightly contradictory messages here,

Pull's Ferry, Norwich

Bishop's Bridge, Norwich

An Egyptian Goose.
Not native to the UK, but brought here from Africa as ornamental birds.
There is now a healthy-sized population of escapees living wild in East Anglia.

High-rise bird/bat/insect City

Cow Tower - completed in 1399, it housed artillery rather than cattle.

Swans were fattened for slaughter here, back in the day when they
were on the menu.  Only the Queen is allowed to eat them these days.

The last Swan Pit in England - so it sez.

The path eventually took me to the Cathedral itself.  An impressive looking building indeed, with a clearly very recently renovated entrance bolted on.  Here we visitors were informed that although there was no admission fee, a donation fee of £5 was “suggested”.  Something the lady at the desk made sure I was made acutely aware of. 

Generally these places have a large perspex box in which to pop your donation, but no such receptacle could be seen.  I asked the woman where I should place my donation, and she casually replied “Just give it to me”.  All of which struck me just a little, shall we say, informal, as I handed over my fiver.

A real live funeral was taking place inside the cathedral as I arrived, so only half of the interior was available to us visitors – I did briefly wonder if should ask for half my fiver back.  It was pleasant enough inside I suppose, but whenever I visit these huge monuments to the "glory of god", I cannot help but ponder the oddness of a medieval society which could be persuaded to plough huge sums of resource into building such an edifice, whilst the vast majority of the town's populace would have been living in abject squalor.  That old lie of “Things will be better in the next life” as powerful back then as it is today, I suppose.

Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral

The Cloister was more interesting than the interior.
In each chamber there were eight or nine intriguing carvings decorating the roof.

I liked this one.  Roof Bosses they are called.

Norwich Cathedral

A visit to the rather fine Norwich Museum killed another hour, before I wandered back to my car along the river once more, making for the intriguingly titled Novi Sad Bridge.  Clearly a lot of work had been done renovating the riverside over recent years, with a couple of areas yet to be touched sticking out like the proverbial sore-thumb.

But these just added to the charm of the place, I felt.  Yes, I decided I actually really liked Norwich, and resolved to return for a proper (i.e. non-football) break sometime soon.

The Novi Sad Bridge.  Norwich is twinned with the Serbian city.
This twinning business, I assume, also accounted for the Koblenz Avenue I ended up parking on.

The aforementioned thumbs

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